Abstract

Black mothers provide a disproportionate share of unpaid and informal health care support to others, internal and external to their households. In addition, black women experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and health-related risk factors. Despite these trends, few studies have examined the impact of daily mothering on women’s self-care practices. Embodiment, an ecosocial theory applied to health disparities research, describes a process by which individuals may biologically incorporate their material and social environments. Black women and mothers have historically managed their own well-being in the context of the care of others, as well as popular images and perceptions that characterize this population as stronger, less feminine, and deviant relative to white women. In this study, we examine how black mothers understand and report their self-care as they simultaneously manage obligations to others and popular messages about black women and motherhood. Findings were based on qualitative data collected from 16 black women. Overall, we found the women reported feelings of stress. This stress seemed to be a consequence of conflicting demands of (1) maternal sacrifice, which is a component of the expectations of a “strong black woman” stereotype, and (2) self-care as it is defined and promoted by healthism.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2326-0947
Print ISSN
2326-0939
Pages
pp. 165-189
Launched on MUSE
2015-11-21
Open Access
No
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